Archive for category shopping and culture

Exeter Vibraphonic Festival 14th-29th March

Exeter is hosting the Vibraphonic Festival for two weeks starting this Friday 14th until Saturday 29th March.

The festival covers reggae, soul, urban, jazz, funk, blues, hip hop, drum & bass, electronica and experimental music across the city. There are around 20 live music venues taking part, including the Exeter Phoenix, the Cavern, Barnfield and many more.

A wide variety of artists and DJs are expected and there are also workshops, demonstrations, dance performances, films and graffiti art.

The first acts announced are Dreadzone, Son Of Dave, Get Rich Quick & Festival Scratch Orchestra, Larry Miller, Craig Charles, Lee Scratch Perry, Tcha Limberger’s Budapest Gypsy Orchestra, and Salsa Celtica. Ticket prices vary and can be bought at the venues or through local ticket outlets.

Once you’re all danced out, you could rest your weary feet at nearby Ottery St Mary in this lovely Helpful Holidays Grade II listed town house (sleeps 4). Smart and comfortable with wooden floors throughout, a long, elegant hall leads to an L-shaped living/dining room and kitchen. French windows open to a small patio area. There’s a downstairs loo then oak stairs lead to the first floor with with one double and one single room and a luxurious bathroom. On the second floor there is another double bedroom with en suite shower room with 2 steps to a small, private roof terrace with views over the town.

Situated right in the heart of Ottery St Mary, you are minutes away from shops and have a perfect base for exploring the gardens and beaches of East Devon.

Front view

Kitchen/dining area

Double bedroom

Beautiful private roof terrace

 

 

 

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Falmouth Spring Festival

Falmouth picture by Flickr user Nigel_Brown

Falmouth picture by Flickr user Nigel_Brown

Enjoy an array of happy springtime events from 13th-30th March as part of the Falmouth Spring Festival in Cornwall, perfect for a pre-Easter getaway. 

The festival celebrates Falmouth’s open and green spaces through music, dance, community activities, sport and art. A large town, port and resort beside one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbours, Falmouth is a brilliant place to visit for beaches, sailing and sightseeing.

On the 13th, pupils from local schools, together with students from Falmouth University, will paint the town yellow with displays of daffodils and decorations in over 100 shop windows.

Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd March is a free games event called Mar Games on the Moor. From 10am to 4pm, you and the family can enjoy dodging a swing ball, playing giant snakes and ladders, connect 4 or quiots. Also on that weekend is the Mar Cider and Folk Fayre, with a great range of bands and a choice of over 20 scrumptious ciders from across the West Country. Events Square will also host a marquee full of food and craft stalls and children’s activities from 10am until late.

Throughout the festival there will also be lots of different guided walks covering topics such as foraging for food, astronomy, nordic walking, beach-combing, wildlife and history. Different grades and duration mean there will be something for everybody!

For more information on these and the many other activities taking place, visit the website.

Sitting on the edge of Falmouth and only a five minute walk to Swanpool beach and seven minutes to the beautiful Gyllingvase beach by cliff and coastal paths is this lovely private apartment on the first floor of a private house. The comfortable accommodation offers a terraced garden (with table/chairs, loungers and gas barbecue) and 180 degree views across to Swanpool and Falmouth Bays. There are two bedrooms (one double, one twin), a living/dining room, fitted gallery kitchen and bathroom (suite plus bath-shower). The friendly owners live unobtrusively in the main house and are delighted to offer advice on days out etc if requested.

 

View from living room

Living room

 

Double bedroom

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“Ghost Peloton” to celebrate Grand Depart

Fifty cyclists lit with LEDs will take part in a “ghost peloton” in Leeds as part of a festival to celebrate and welcome in the Tour de France Grand Depart.

The £2m Yorkshire Festival will include 47 different bicycle-themed projects, including installations, performances, photography exhibitions and screenings.

The festival will run from 27th March to 6th July, with the Tour’s Grand Depart taking place in Leeds on 5th July before spending two days racing through places like Harrogate, York and Sheffield.

Yorkshire Festival executive producer Henrietta Duckworth said: “The race is not just about those two days of epic exertion by men in lycra.

“This is an opportunity to engage people with a programme of work that will capture the imagination, trigger some excitable and enjoyable activities and give people a chance to get involved in the Grand Depart in the 100 days leading up to the actual race.”

Highlights of the festival include:

  • Two new sculptures by Thomas Houseago, one for Leeds city centre and the other for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
  • Large-scale grass-based land art installations will be created along the route of the second day of the Tour de France.
  • A “tour de cinema” will include film screenings in 35 town halls and 10 outdoor locations.
  • A songwriting relay will create folk songs and take them from town to town by bicycle.
  • Maxine Peake will make her stage scriptwriting debut at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with a play about cyclist Beryl Burton.
  • The White Cloth Gallery in Leeds will host an exhibition of photographs of the Tour from the 1960s to the present day.
  • Belgian theatre company Theater Tol will perform an aerial show about Italian cyclists Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi in Dewsbury.

After the Tour’s opening two stages in Yorkshire, the third stage will go from Cambridge to London before the race moves to France.

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VisitBritain sets sights on American tourists

VisitBritain is setting its sights on American tourists over the next couple of years.

The national tourism agency has signed a joint marketing deal with one of the largest US travel companies in order to promote travel to the UK.

VisitBritain said the deal with The Travel Corporation was the “largest agreement of its kind for VisitBritain in the US market to date”.

3.5 million travellers from North America visited the UK between December 2012 and November 2013. It hopes the marketing campaign, due to start in February, will help to increase this number to a target of 1 million more US and Canadian visitors a year by 2016.

The main partnership activities will focus on culture, heritage and countryside themes, with multi-channel marketing targeting both the travel agency market and consumers.

 

 

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Homecoming Scotland 2014

Fort William photo by Flickr user Hotfield

Fort William photo by Flickr user Hotfield

Scotland is marketing itself to itself in a new £500,000 campaign, ‘Homecoming Scotland 2014’.

The campaign will encourage fellow Scots, northerners and the Northern Irish to visit the various events happening throughout the year, right on their doorsteps. There will be a 30-second TV advert, radio, digital, press and other promotional activity to highlight the 430 family-friendly Homecoming events. These include the Islay Festival of Music and Malt, Lochearnhead Highland Games, and the Wickerman Festival in Dumfries and Galloway.

Tourism minister Fergus Ewing said: “This year, Scotland will also play host to the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and the MTV Europe Awards – which will broadcast to nearly 700 million households through MTV’s global network of channels.

“2014 will be an extraordinary year for Scotland and this advert, alongside the Homecoming app and enhanced information on the wider events programme which are also now available, will help us to share it with as many people as possible.”

So with all these brilliant events going on, what better time than to highlight the Scotland section of our Holiday Cottages!

We have lots to choose from, but to start, how about The Logs, a detached Norwegian-style log house (sleeps up to 10) 3 miles north of Fort William. It has panoramic views of Ben Nevis and the ski slopes of Aonach Mor.

The comfortable accommodation includes a spacious lounge with gallery sitting room, dining room, well-equipped breakfast kitchen, 6 bedrooms (2 en suite) and a bathroom. There is a wood-burning stove in the lounge, gas central heating, 2 TVs, DVD, video and CD player. The large garden and patio area is bordered by the remnants of the old Caledonian pine forest. Plus, there are over 70 events and activities listed on the Homecoming Scotland 2014 website including tours, cycling, fishing and lots more!

The Logs outside

The Logs outside

Cosy living room

Cosy living room

 

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2013 round up

Happy New Year from all of us at Holiday Cottages! Before we start on the news and reviews for 2014, here’s a some highlights of what we covered on the blog in 2013:

We started the year with a report that we Brits are creatures of habit with our holiday choices, often returning to a previous destination and holiday cottage when we’ve had one good holiday there before. Last year was the Year of Natural Scotland, and was launched with an advert featuring Shetland ponies wearing onesies!

In February we found that 50% of Londoners prefer holidays in the sunshine, with many also stating that their holidays in the UK were some of the happiest they have had. We also gave you a run down of some of our most splendid cottages with pools, which are all still available now and could be great for a summer holiday vibe in winter!

Flybe announced flights from Manchester to Scotland in March, making for a quick and relatively cost effective way of taking a short break in Scotland. The Easter holidays were blighted by bad weather sweeping across the country. It didn’t affect Cheshire, though, as I shared my photography adventure in Tatton Park over the Easter weekend.

Our friends at Helpful Holidays swept the board at the Which? Travel magazine member survey in April. Meanwhile, in May, Blackpool was named the most popular British seaside resort at the TripAdvisor Choice Awards.

In June, research by VisitBritain found that more overseas visitors to the UK prefer visiting open green spaces such as parks and gardens than they do museums and galleries.

July started with the news that a change in the law in 2015, which means schools will decide their own term dates, will very likely drive up the prices of holidays year round. There was a rise in visits to UK attractions, helping to bolster domestic tourism.

We gave our top tips for festivals and activities over the August Bank Holiday; we also reported on the large number of UK piers under threat of coming under a state of disrepair if funding isn’t found.

September was a time for activities such as the Devon Open Studios, Frome Cheese and Agricultural Show, and pickling at Powderham.

In October, inbound tourism was on the up, and also Yorkshire was voted one of the top 10 places to visit in the world!

In November we recommended the North Devon Clovelly Herring Festival and reviewed the light fantastic Lumiere Festival, Durham. There was good news for Hull, as it was named the next UK City of Culture 2017.

Finally, in December, we found that we Brits are flavour of the month with Americans, as tourists from across the Pond have been increasing in number year on year. Christmas was also a great time for UK tourism as the number of overnight stays and short trips increased substantially over the festive period.

So, that’s it for 2013! Keep up to date with news and reviews in 2014 by following the blog, or you can like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

 

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Yorkshire events this weekend

Doctor Who exhibition picture by Flickr User AllisonStein

Doctor Who exhibition picture by Flickr User AllisonStein

As a nod to Yorkshire being voted one of the must see regions in the world recently, here are a few of the many events going on around the county this weekend.

Starting this Saturday and for the following two Saturdays before Christmas, Grassington travels back in time for its annual Dickensian Festival. This pretty village will be filled with the traditional sights and smells (only the nice ones) from this bygone era. Lights will adorn the streets and the traditional market will abound with shopkeepers and villagers all dressed in Victorian costume. There will be street entertainers, dancers, musicians and exhibitions of traditional country crafts.

In York from this Saturday until Christmas Eve you can take a magical steam train journey to the North Yorkshire Pole to meet Santa and his elves. Families can enjoy the trip and some festive treats in the beautiful Dining Car Restaurant. A lovely day out.

On every weekend until the 2nd December is Breakfast with Santa at Stockeld Park, Wetherby, as part of its Christmas Adventure Season. Join Santa and his friends for a tasty breakfast and each child will receive a Christmas present!

The National Media Museum in Bradford is holding a special exhibition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. One of Britain’s most popular television programmes, the exhibition will explore what it means to the many fans. Doctor Who and Me: 50 Years of Doctor Who Fans will run from 23 November 2013 – 9 February 2014.

The Headrow in Leeds will be showcasing jewellery of eight contemporary designers until 11th January. There will be beautiful collections of unique earrings, necklaces, rings, brooches and cufflinks, all perfect for Christmas gifts.

Also at the Headrow is ‘Up Front’ an exhibition showcasing 9 designers exploring colourful and characterful ceramics, glass and wood pieces.

If you’re in the mood for some theatre and you’re near Queen Street in Huddersfield this Saturday, go to see ALADDIN. Performed by the young people of Exit 25 Theatre School, watch a great production suitable for all the family.

For a list of these events and many more, go to the Welcome to Yorkshire website to help plan your visit. If you are in need of anywhere to stay, look at our range of holiday cottages in Yorkshire.

 

 

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Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Hull picture by Flickr user Martin Greybeard

Hull picture by Flickr user Martin Greybeard

Hull has been named the 2017 UK City of Culture, beating off competition from Dundee, Swansea Bay and Leicester. 

Every four years the Government chooses a new destination to hold the title with the aim of developing tourism and boosting the economy of the area. Hull will take over the title from current City of Culture, Derry-Londonderry.

Hull council leader Stephen Brady said winning was “a real game-changer” and “It will give Hull a platform to tell the world what this great city has to offer, transform perceptions and accelerate our journey to make Hull a prime visitor destination.”

The city was praised by the judges for its campaign video which emphasised the city’s ‘golden rules’: “Don’t go thinking you’re something you’re not; don’t go thinking that you’re better than anybody else, or that anybody else is better than you, and don’t shout about it, get on with it.”

Best known as the home of poet Philip Larkin but also more recently in the press for its high levels of unemployment, Hull has already started planning an ambitious opening ceremony to kick-start this positive step in its future. The ceremony will involve 3,000 volunteers, a light show and the planting of thousands of trees.

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Christmas markets

Manchester Christmas Markets picture by Flickr user fussy onion

Manchester Christmas Markets picture by Flickr user fussy onion

It’s nearing the end of November, the nights are getting bitingly cold and thoughts of Christmas are starting to creep in. So, what better way to start the festive build up than with a hot cup of mulled wine, some cheese or tasty fudge at one of the many Christmas markets setting up in towns across the country!

Manchester opened its international markets last weekend, with a two-floor bar and an enormous glowing Santa in Albert Square.

Opening this Thursday (21st November) are the West Country Christmas markets. The Cathedral Green in Exeter will be filled with over 50 local and international traders offering a variety of foods, drinks and handmade crafts, perfect for presents. Take a picturesque train journey from this semi-detached cottage (sleeps 5) situated by the waters edge with views across the bay.

This weekend on the 23rd and 24th November you’ll find a great selection of food, drink and crafts at the Food and Craft Fair in St Austell. Positioned on the site of the old china clay works at Wheal Martyn, enjoy some relaxed, hassle free shopping at this historic site. Take your treats back to the sauna at this upside down house in Talland Bay (sleeps 6).

From 27th November to 1st December Truro will host the Made in Cornwall Fair on the Lemon Quay. There will be a great range of Cornish products, from award-winning food produce to unique clothing to collectable teddy bears. Also on the Lemon Quay on 4th December will be the Primestock Show when town meets country and you can get up close to Cornwall’s finest livestock.

And finally, Santa will be arriving by boat in the picturesque, seaside town of Fowey on 29th November to lead a lantern procession through the village. After which, there will be two days of entertainment, food and drink. Stroll back to this elegant Victorian house (sleeps 7) with views across the river.

 

 

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Inbound tourism on the up

The number of visitors to the UK grew by 16% to 3.5 million in August compared to last year. 

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics also show that spending by visitors to the UK hit a record £13.7 billion in the first 8 months of the year, up by around 11% on last year.

“More people than ever from around the world are choosing to holiday in Britain, with record numbers coming from the high spending markets of Latin America, Middle East and Asia Pacific,” said VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe.

Outbound tourism didn’t do too badly either, with the number of Brits deciding to go abroad for their holidays in August rising by 8% compared to last year.

Overall visits abroad in the 12 months to August grew by 2% with spending up by 4%. Holiday visits grew 2% but business visits fell by 1%, and visits to friends or relatives grew by 8%.

 

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